There were many turbulent times in the lives of God’s people. Within those times however, peaceful events also occurred. The story of Ruth is a perfect example of peace, love and harmony.
During a period of famine, Elimelech moved from Bethlehem, Judah with his wife, Naomi and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion to the land of Moab. He was able to escape the famine, but soon died in that foreign land. Mahlon and Chilion married Moabitess women, Ruth and Orpah. Within about ten years they both had died leaving their wives as young widows.
The famine in Bethlehem had ended. Naomi determined to leave her daughters-in-law and return home. After first refusing to stay, Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye. However, Ruth in a now classic quote replied, “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will Lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”
The Law of Moses required grain harvesters to leave a portion of grain in the field for the poor to glean for their own use. Since it was the time of barley harvest, Ruth went out to glean and happened to be in the field of Boaz, a close relative of her deceased husband.
Boaz had heard of the care that Ruth had given to Naomi and because of her reputation, he gave her special favors. At the end of the day she had gleaned about an ephah of grain. That was equivalent to about six or seven gallons. She continued to glean in Boaz’s fields through the barley and following wheat harvests.
Naomi had returned to Bethlehem bitter toward God for the loss of her husband and sons. Her attitude changed to one of thanksgiving for His allowing Ruth to find favor with Boaz. She then began to focus upon the role of matchmaker between Ruth and Boaz.
Hebrew law required that the near kinsman of a widow’s husband redeem her property if it had to be sold. He would also be responsible to marry a childless widow to raise up children for her deceased husband. Naomi was beyond childbearing age, but she was caring for Ruth’s welfare.
Ruth was guided by Naomi through the steps that would get Boaz’s attention. He was an honorable man and agreed to perform the duties of the near kinsman if the man more kin than he refused to accept his responsibility. That man agreed to redeem Naomi’s land, but when he learned of Ruth, he declined. He released all of his responsibilities to Boaz. As confirmation of his decision, he removed his sandal at the gate before the legal number of witnesses.
Boaz, Ruth and Naomi became a happy family that was prominent in the history of Israel. Ruth soon bore a son, Obed. Naomi became his nurse. More importantly, Boaz, Obed, Jesse and David were in the earthly linage of the Son of God.